Anne Lill Kvam on Calming Signals & Angola

🐕: “You’ll be presenting on different things such as agression, barking, scentwork but will talk a lot about calming signals and communication.
What is so important to understand for the everyday dog owners and any canine professionals about calming signals?”
ALK: “The understanding of Calming Signals is crucial for any person wanting to be close to dogs, as this is the dogs’ natural way of communicating. Dogs communicate with each other and with their environment. And like humans, they love it when someone understand their language.
When we understand the meaning of dogs Calming signals, we can easily prevent difficult situations, like biting or other expressions of fear or aggression. Because dogs, like us, give warnings when something is wrong. And like us, the warnings escalate when not heard/read. Every individual has its own threshold for violence, some will nearly never hit anyone, others rather easily turn to punitive behaviour.
People who have learnt to read and use the Calming signals, have reported back that they  feel a whole new world of their dog is opening up for them. And that the bonding between them get stronger; and this is possible, as the dogs and we are evolutionary developed to fit together. Our nervous systems are tuned into each other, so that both dogs and humans, by eye gazing dog-owner, will increase our oxytocin levels. Oxytocin = a hormon which strengthens the bonding between mother and child and between lovers when looking into each others eyes. So also between dog and owner.
If you want better performance from your dog, you need to know the best way of “talking” with him. If you want a better relationship, you create this by speaking the same language.
🐕: “Your work with dogs has taken you far and wide across the globe; especially a stint in Angola, training dogs and handlers in mine detection. Thinking back how has that time in Angola influenced you?”
ALK: “OH, My time in Angola was precious. I was there for 2,5 years. Those days the war was still not over, and we were there to clear land mines with dogs.
First of all, I had a wonderful opportunity to test and verify the training methods and philosophy I learned at IDTE with Turid Rugaas, and in the Search and Rescue team I was part of home in Norway.
I learnt a lot about dealing with humans, and how to approach an unknown culture. Of course, I did some stupid mistakes in the beginning, but learned and improved, and as I educated the men to become dog handlers, they educated me as well, to become a better team leader, being a guest in a foreign culture, and to speak their language.
And, I learned to trust my knowledge, and stay on even in difficult situations.
Sometimes people ask me for advice, and I recommend anyone who are touching this kind of thoughts to go out there. The chance to give and to learn in mutual benefit like this, is something that is part of me for my life. And I believe that every person will enjoy and grow personally, from doing something like this, maybe not with dogs, but with any organisation doing humanitarian work somewhere in the world. It should be mandatory for any education.”
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